CLEVELAND – Still euphoric from their recent Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers, players and executives of the world champion Browns gathered together around Cleveland’s downtown statue of Art Modell to raise a toast to their Super Bowl season, and to recall that fateful moment during the 1990s when the team nearly relocated 375 miles to the southeast.
“Hey, you guys remember that one time we almost moved to Baltimore?” asked general manager Ozzie Newsome. “Man, I’m sure glad Mr. Modell changed his mind about that. To think we almost left town right as our glory era was about to begin!”
“I don’t know if people realize just how close the Browns came to leaving,” said Vinny Testaverde, Cleveland’s quarterback during the 1995 season.” Mr. Modell was all ready to pull the trigger. Until he stopped and realized the devastating impact that move would have on the hundreds of thousands of Browns fans in the region. He decided he just couldn’t break their hearts like that. And the rest is history.”
Indeed, during the late 1990s, long suffering Cleveland fans finally saw their Browns rise to prominence due to a number of strong personnel moves, including the drafting of LB Ray Lewis, who would go on to win the Super Bowl MVP trophy in Cleveland’s 2001 Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants.
The team continued to be a defensive powerhouse through the 2000s, and Lewis capped his Hall of Fame worthy career by leading the Browns to their recent championship over San Francisco.
“God Bless the Cleveland Browns, and God bless Art Modell!” roared the now retired Lewis, raising a glass of champagne to the team’s late owner, who passed away on Sep. 6, 2012. “You will forever be cherished in the hearts of Browns fans everywhere!”
“Some people say we’ve been spoiled by all this success,” said Walt Capshaw of Lakewood, OH. “But hey, Art Modell sacrificed his own personal financial gain to ensure that our beloved Browns stayed right here in this city, Â winning us all these division titles, playoff games, and even a couple of Super Bowls. So we’re going to keep on enjoying it. Go Browns! Still the original, still the greatest!”